I was supposed to do a nude photo shoot last week.
There was more to it than just wanting someone to take photos of me. Some months ago I was approached by a different photographer about doing a nude shoot. I liked the idea a lot (and still do), but worried about whether I’d be up to it. That photographer lives overseas, and while I have tentative plans to be in his neck of the woods later this year, it would be impossible to meet more than a day or two in advance to decide whether I felt I could do this project with him. With the distances involved, I feared that I would pressure myself into going through with it even if I wasn’t entirely at ease, and I didn’t want to put either of us in that position.
And why should I be nervous about a nude shoot when I have a bunch of nude photos on the internet already?
Once upon a time, I connected with yet another photographer, who was trying to build up a portfolio and was offering glamour and nude shoots. I inquired about glamour but was too slow off the mark, though he was still looking for people for nudes…
I don’t know why I pushed on with it. I was torn: I was vaguely interested but very uncomfortable. I would hint daintily at nudity but not commit to it (a shadow on a piece of fabric, a jacket worn without a shirt or bra under it). I felt awkward and almost defensive the whole time and then I hated all the images that came back. And from that I learned caution.
If I agree to do a shoot with Overseas Photographer, I expect some nerves but I don’t want to be haunted by a feeling of wrongness the whole time. How could I get some assurance that it wouldn’t suddenly seem like a bad idea as soon as I got to his studio?
Prior to this discussion with OP, I’d been approached on FetLife by someone who was also a photographer. He was local-ish, and had liked my profile image. That conversation didn’t really go anywhere, in part because I was just feeling my way around the site and trying to dissuade the people drawn out of the woodwork by the smell of fresh meat. Later I started thinking that I could try working with FetLife Photographer as a trial run before OP. FP seemed OK so I got in touch again and initiated a discussion.
We don’t live in the same city, but FP sometimes comes to my city to shoot and didn’t mind making a trip. I mentioned wanting to meet in advance, which he thought would be unlikely to happen due to the distance and travel times involved. Logistics are definitely an issue, but considering I still wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to follow through — and a major purpose of this project was to help me assess that — I considered an advance meeting to be essential and gently pushed the point. We had been back and forth daily, so when I didn’t hear from him for two weeks (after noting that he had been on the site many times since our last exchange), I took it as a tacit dismissal of my concerns and a conclusion that this was an incompatibility.
But then a couple of days after I’d given up on him, FP turned up again and apologized, explaining that he’d somehow missed responding. We agreed that if either of us was in the other’s city, we’d try to make plans to meet. And not too long after, an opportunity arose.
We met at a coffee shop, and Wolf came along for the first short while, mostly so Wolf could meet him and form his own opinions. (I’d already sent Gawan the link to FP’s FetLife page for an opinion based on his profile info and portfolio.) Wolf left after about 10 minutes, leaving the two of us to chat.
So there I was, in a coffee shop showing a virtual stranger nude photos of myself, and I found that my biggest concern was ensuring the images weren’t in the sight lines of the other customers. I felt strangely comfortable. Strangely? I was surprised, but maybe the comfort was a certainty after all the nude photos I’ve posted online.
Soon after, FP let me know that he had a few days that could work for a shoot (the first being a mere three days hence) but understood if it was too rushed. I picked the last day of the three he offered, and we started making our plans.
The one thing we hadn’t managed to agree on was the release form. We had discussed his approach to nude photography (what gets posted where, whether the model’s face is shown, etc.) when we met and — after I reviewed the release form — also in the lead up to the appointed day. His verbal explanation sounded good, but lots of details that I thought were important were omitted from the form. The evening before the shoot, I sent him my specific thoughts on revising the form. He didn’t get my notes until the morning and wasn’t prepared to discuss it at that point. He called off the shoot. I haven’t heard from him since.
Will the shoot with FP go ahead? It’s not impossible, but we’ll need to negotiate and agree to a release form before scheduling anything. My impression, however, is that he’s not interested in working with me any more.
It’s not a total loss. I now know to discuss and negotiate the release form in advance. I’ve learned that I don’t necessarily need the anonymity and distance of the internet to be able to feel at ease sharing images of my nude body. I was disappointed by the cancellation rather than relieved. I now feel more comfortable with the idea of doing a shoot with OP, and establishing my comfort level was the point of this exercise.
Now I just need to get on a plane, I suppose. But I have a bigger trip in the meantime: I’m going to visit Gawan in about a month and a half.